Sunday, November 29, 2015

11-30-2015 President's Message

Dear Elders and Sisters,

We love you. We pray for you. We thank the Lord for your faith and goodness.

My message today is short because I want to direct you to the Word of God.

Please go to Doctrine and Covenants 121 verses 34-46. The message in these verses is profound.
Almost all companionship difficulties and frustration in the work come because missionaries do not fully understand these doctrines. Many other problems in life come because people have not yet learned to apply these doctrines.
Your assignment this week during personal and companionship study is to apply these scriptures to yourselves.

I promise that if you are humble and prayerful, the Lord will change your life.

In your next email, please let me know what the Lord teaches you (not about others but about yourself). Let me know how you will use the Atonement of Christ to change.

Mahal ko po kayo,

President Creg Ostler

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

2015-11-22 Mission President's Seminar, Zone Preparation Day, and Farewells

Dear Sisters and Elders,

Twice each year Sister Ostler and I are blessed to meet with the 20 other Philippines mission presidents and their wives to receive training from our leaders. This past week we had the huge privilege of being trained and uplifted by Elders Neal A. Anderson and Dale G. Renlund of the Twelve Apostles, as well as Elder Richard Maynes, Ian S. Ardern, Shayne M. Bowen and Allen D. Haynie of the Seventy. All of their wives also participated in the training.

It is impossible to share complete notes from three days of training, as well as the wonderful insights we received from personal conversations with our leaders. But I love you and want to share what I can. So here are a few of my notes:

First, as each of the Brethren were teaching, I took a few minutes to put down my pen and paper and listen with my heart. While listening to Elder Renlund and Elder Anderson, I felt a strong, peaceful confirmation that "Yes. This is an Apostle of God." I know that these men were called of God and ordained to be prophets, seers and revelators. I know this. As the members of the Seventy were teaching and testifying, I likewise felt the peace and assurance that these are holy men, called of God.

Elder Neal A. Anderson:

The Philippines is the best situated country in the world for missionary work. We need to reap the harvest now.

The Philippines has a big role to play in preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ--not just in the Philippines, but throughout this part of the world.

This is the work of the Lord and it is a work of miracles.

Take the time to see yourself returning to Heavenly Father after this life, not as a prodigal, but as a faithful son or daughter. (Imagine His joy. Imagine your joy.)

Don't confuse outward success with spirituality.

Describing the day that Elder Renlund was ordained an apostle: "It was a day when heaven comes to earth with a power that is unforgettable."

Elder Dale G. Renlund:

Missionaries should prepare personally for the sacrament, even before Sunday. On Sunday, when the sacrament ordinance starts, they should stop worrying about investigators and should put their full personal focus on the ordinance, on the Savior and their closeness to Him.

If we do our level best, we have the right to be pleased. But we don't have the right to be satisfied "until the great work of the Lord is done."

Focus on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. This will give great power to our teaching.

Elder Ian S. Ardern:

To be a Master Gospel Teach is to "get out of the way." It is not enough to teach with Clarity. We need to teach so that the Holy Ghost can testify.

It is not the CONVINCING power of the Holy Ghost we want. It is the CONVERTING power of the Holy Ghost we want.

We are not after baptisms alone--we are after long term, multi-generational conversion.

If there are no goals in the church, we make no progress.

Teach the missionaries that they must pay a price for their testimonies.

Make sure that the missionaries know that they know more about our Savior Jesus Christ than ANYONE they will teach. Say "I am happy that you believe in Christ. Let me help you know more about the Atonement, resurrection and doctrine of Christ."

Elder Richard Maynes:

Find SEEKERS. Find the people who want to know the truth and are willing to make changes. Do not waste time with people who are happy to talk with you but do not want to change their lives. Their time may come later.
A ward mission plan without a baptism goal is not a  plan.

Make time to find new investigators every single day.
Do what it takes to be able to write in your journal "THIS AREA IS ON FIRE!"

If you are looking for extraordinary results, begin with extraordinary faith and extraordinary prayers.


I could go on and on with more notes from these Brethren as well as the others. They taught many more things that we will be using in zone conferences and in our training plans.

May the Lord bless and strengthen you.

Mahal ko po kayo,

President Creg Ostler

Elder Maynes, Elder Renlund, Elder Anderson, Elder Bowen, Elder Haynie

                                After three days of wonderful, inspiring, seminars

                     Our fellow servants....... at the American War Memorial Cemetery

        Our "Batch"-the mission presidents who came to the Philippines when we did
          They are some of the most dedicated and faithful people we have ever met!

                                               Preparation Day Enjoyment

                    Sisters and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough...the perfect combination :)

                                    Saying Goodbye to Elder Padilla

                                        Elder Francisco is finishing his mission.
 Sister Langkilde is finishing her mission too.  It's such a blessing to know these precious missionaries.  Only Heavenly Father knows all they've sacrificed to be on a mission.  Only He knows how hard they have loved, worked and served his children.
Oh, how we love them each for it!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

2015-11 Message about Christmas Calls

Dear Elders and Sisters,

Christmas is such a wonderful time to be serving as a full time representative of Jesus Christ! You are walking in the footsteps of our Savior as you invite, teach and encourage your brothers and sisters to come back to their Heavenly Father. I invite you to read the New Testament accounts of His birth and to pray to get to know Him better.

Christmas is also a time to talk with your family and share your testimony and love with them. This is a privilege that has opened up in recent years and has been a blessing for missionaries and families.

Here are the guidelines:

1. 40 minutes maximum time

2. Either phone or Skype (if available) is permitted.

3. You are only permitted to call parents. If your parents are separated, you may talk with each of them separately for 30 minutes. If you were raised by a guardian, if your parents are not alive, or if your parents are inaccessible, you may call your guardian or other close relative. You may not talk (or Skype) with boyfriends, girlfriends or other friends. This is a family call.

4. You should initiate the call from here if possible. If not, you may receive the call on your phone. You may use support to buy the extra cell phone minutes for your call.

5. Because of time zone differences, you may call on December 24, 25 or 26, depending on the availability of your family.

6. Please email this week and next to make arrangements for the call. If your family does not respond by December 15th, please work with Sister Mortimer in the mission office to help you make arrangements.
This is a wonderful time to share with your family how the Lord has blessed you in the mission field. Enjoy this time!

Reminder: As indicated in your mission call, when emailing each week, "chatting" back and forth is not permitted. If someone notices you are online and reaches out to chat, do not reply. Please wait until the following Monday to respond. (Parents are receiving a copy of this email so they will already have been reminded.)

We are looking forward to our mission Christmas gatherings over the next couple of weeks!

Maligayang Pasko!

President Ostler


Dear Elders and Sisters,

Thank you for your faith, diligence and hard work! I know that you have been praying and working and trying your best to have a White Christmas on December 26th.

Remember, our goal is to have every companionship baptize two people on that day. Many new investigators came to church on Sunday. Many investigators have committed to December 26th. Now we need to pray for the Holy Ghost to truly convert their hearts. Plan your lessons, not just to go through the doctrine and not just to convince them to join the church. Plan your lessons so that the Spirit of God will be your third lalaki!  Plan your lessons with the full purpose of allowing your investigators to feel the spirit of the Lord in their hearts.

When we set this goal as a mission, we felt the guidance of the spirit in doing so. We felt that the Lord would send His blessings if we would be obedient and full of faith. We know that He answers prayers.

I want you to know and remember three things:

First, every day and every week we need to keep finding new investigators.

Second, every day and every week we need to work with recent converts and less actives to help them progress towards the temple. The harvest is not in the garners until families are sealed in the temple.

Third, some of you had the experience last Sunday, and others will have the experience on one of the upcoming Sundays, that investigators who are progressing and keeping their other commitments don't show up to Church. Or you will have someone who relapses on the Word of Wisdom or other commandments and will not be ready for baptism on December 26th. For any of us who care about the souls of those we teach, and that is all of us, it hurts our hearts when people make these choices. But remember, no matter how much faith we have and no matter how hard we work, we cannot take away the agency of others.

If this disappointment happens to you, NEVER let it turn into discouragement. We only fail when we stop having faith. If your investigator or investigators fall through, build a huge fire of faith in your heart. Set a strong, faithful goal to make January the month of miracles for your area.

Elders and Sisters, remember the reason we do this work:

"For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. For behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him...And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!" (DC 18 10,11,13)

I am so proud of you. I am so pleased with your faith, obedience and work. I am also proud of your willingness to change, repent and improve. If you have things to repent of; if you have things you need to improve or it! Now is the time!

Mahal ko po kayo,

President Creg Ostler

Sunday, November 15, 2015

11-16-2015 President's Message

Dear Elders and Sisters,
Thank you for joining in a special mission fast this past weekend. Thank you for fasting so
that the Lord would bless you, and all missionaries in the mission, with the opportunity to
baptize on December 26th.
Missionary work takes Faith! It takes faith in the Lord.
Faith is different from belief. Faith is a principle of action. We see our faith in the way we
live, not in the words we speak.
Christ said "...If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain,
Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto
you." (Matthew 17:20)
When I read this I think: How will I show my faith? I will show my faith by praying with all
my heart and then picking up a shovel and getting to work! Can I move the mountain with
my shovel? No. But I can show the Lord that I will do everything I can. When the Lord sees
me using all of my faith, then the blessings will come.
"Faith leads to action, including repentance, obedience, and dedicated service. When
you have faith in Jesus Christ, you trust the Lord enough to follow His commandments--
even when you do not completely understand the reasons for them. You accomplish what
the Lord wants you to accomplish...You are abler to do miracles according to the Lord's
will. Your faith will be manifest through diligence and work....Faith is a principle of power.
God works by power, but His power is usually exercised in response to faith." (Preach My
Gospel, chapter 6)
In the last general conference, Elder Neal A. Anderson taught about faith:
"Your faith will grow not by chance, but by choice. How we live our lives increases
or diminishes our faith. Prayer, obedience, honesty, purity of thought and deed, and
unselfishness increase our faith.
Although your beginning fire of faith may be small, righteous choices bring greater
confidence in God and your faith grows.
Faith is a choice. Strengthen your faith, and live to be deserving of the Savior's approving
words: 'Great is thy faith.' As you do, I promise you that your faith, through the grace of
Jesus Christ, will one day allow you to stand with those you love, clean and pure in the
presence of God."
Sisters and Elders, let's exercise our faith together, and then let's trust the Lord that, AS A
MISSION, we will see the great blessing of many, many souls gathered to Him.
With love for you, and faith in the Lord,
President Creg Ostler

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

2015-11-10 Zone Meeting in Puerto Princesa

What a wonderful group of missionaries!  What a blessing it is to have the Wolcotts and now the Atkinsons too!  Heaven has opened its windows and is pouring out blessings! 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

2015-11-09 President's Message

Dear Sisters and Elders,

This is a wonderful time of year! This is the time of year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It is the sweetest and most special time to be a full time missionary, representing the Savior of the world. I am thankful that we are blessed to serve together.

This week in zone meeting, the zone leaders and sister training leaders will be inviting you to participate in a very exciting goal. They will also be inviting you to Pay the Price for the Lord to do miracles through you. This will include the price of obedience and the price of having a special mission fast next Sunday.

This will be a Christmas that will change the lives of many, many people in the mission. I know that we can do this together.

Thanks to the many of you who have memorized the Mission Vision. I also ask and invite you to put a copy of the Mission Vision on the wall in every apartment and for every missionary to memorize the vision. We have made a small change to the vision so that it includes the sentence: "We will work closely with our local leaders and members."

Here is the Mission Vision:

"We will help bring Heavenly Father's children back to Him by having every companionship in the mission complete one "Conversion Indicator" every week. These conversion indicators are Baptism, Full Activity in the Church, Temple Preparation and Temple Ordinances. We will do this by focusing on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, being exactly obedient and being completely humble. We will work closely with our local leaders and members. We will plan effectively, use our time wisely and invite for baptism in every lesson."

In addition to memorizing the vision, as you plan each week and each day, use your planning sheets and your white board to make specific plans to accomplish it.

Remember the promise of the Lord to missionaries in 1 Nephi 13:37:

"And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be."

Mahal ko po kayo,

President Creg Ostler

Thursday, November 5, 2015


   Yesterday was a wonderful day at the Manila Temple!  Sister Lauriel Lacsamana  
    was sealed for time and all eternity!  Her husband served in the Cavite Mission, so
    President and Sister Tye were there too.  

               It was a special treat to have Sister Kasteler and Sister Lemmon there!      

                          It was an absolutely beautiful day at the temple.


Today was Mission Leadership Council.  That's when all the zone leaders from the whole mission come to the mission home to learn and counsel together about how we can better achieve our purpose as missionaries.  This morning, the front gate buzzer rang at 5:45am.  It was two faithful sisters who came early so they would have time to OYM (Open Your Mouth) and share the gospel on the way to the meeting.  That's the kind of missionaries we have in this mission!  It's humbling.

                                        Sister Ariff and Sister Arif

                                                Lovely Sister Training Leaders!

                                                      Guapo Elders!

 We had a delicious pancake, bacon and scrambled egg breakfast.  The Americans loved it.  The Filipinos cautiously asked me what the bacon was.  Its so fun seeing all of them learn to try new things.

The Wolcotts, who are currently serving in Puerto Princessa, were able to fly over to join us.  They are still quite new, but have jumped in with both feet and are serving with all their hearts!  We are so glad they chose to come!!

 One of the highlights of the meeting was getting to know our new senior couples better!  The Mortimers arrived several weeks ago, and the Atkinsons arrived yesterday!  As they shared a little about themselves, it quickly became apparent to all of us that Heavenly Father has sent us angels!  We feel so very grateful for each one of them!  They are true examples of living the law of consecration.

             Elder and Sister Duford have been literal life-savers as they have taken
over the office and help the office elders get organized and efficient.  Elders Benting, Thacker and Pickford have really grown and contributed to the successful functioning of the office.  Elder Wilson and Elder Burgos are stepping right up as Assistants and did an excellent job with MLC.  It is such a blessing to see the growth and maturity in their service.  We are so blessed to have such wonderful missionaries to help us in this great endeavor.

                        Manila Mission Leadership Council November 2015
                     (Including all seniors except the Wirthlins and Hansens)

    Today we discussed in detail the reasons why the Army of Helaman was so successful and decided to work to become more like them.  We are blessed to have many faithful elders and sisters.  As we obey with exactness, we will see miracles.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

2015-11-4 Hooray! They're Here!

Hooray!!!  The Atkinsons arrived today!  Oh, how we love our senior couples!  It is like they are our friends for life when they arrive!  (Maybe because that's what we become when we serve like this together.)  We are sooooooo grateful for them and for their families who are sharing them with us and the Filipino people!

Monday, November 2, 2015

2015-11-03 Christmas Begins

We finally did it!  We are two months late according to Filipino tradition, but we are about a month early according to American tradition.  The important thing is....the tree is up!

 Four wonderful sister missionaries and Angel helped set up the Christmas tree this year.
Having them in our home is like bringing the spirit of Christmas into your house!

Sister Lockwood, being the tallest got the job of putting the star on top.  She's a star!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

2015-11-2 President's Letter

Dear Elders and Sisters,

We love you so very much. When I read your letters this week, tears of love and gratitude filled my eyes. You are truly Pearls of Great Price--valuable and precious to the Lord. Sister Ostler and I are so pleased with you. As I interviewed our 34 new missionaries two weeks ago I showed them the picture board in my office and said: "Welcome to the Manila mission! These are 200 of the greatest missionaries on earth!"
Because I love you, I am going to invite you to make a change in your life. When you first read the invitation, you might think that it is a small thing, but I testify to you that making this change will change your life forever. Making this change will invite the spirit into your life. It will increase the number of friends you have. It will make you a joy to be around. It will double your success in the Lord's work.

When I was in high school I worked for a company that sold survival equipment. One of the items this company sold was a special, two-edged knife. The blade was about 6 inches (15 centimeters) long and was so sharp that you could not feel it when it cut you. It was a very dangerous knife. One of the customers took the knife hunting and, instead of putting the knife back into the sheath (cover), he accidentally shoved it into his hip. He did not know anything was wrong until he started bleeding heavily from the wound.

In Hebrews 4:12 Paul teaches: "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword..."

In the Doctrine and Covenants, five times the Lord says that His word is "quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword." (6:2, 11:2, 12:2, 14:2, 33:1)

Elders and Sisters, your words are also very powerful. Your words have two edges: the power to lift and inspire, or, the power to discourage, weaken and destroy. One edge blesses, the other hurts.

You might think that it doesn't matter too much when you use your words to complain about a church leader, to criticize a companion, to murmur about a rule, to gossip about another person. Oh, but it matters very much!

You might not think that it matters too much when you use your words to express confidence in a church leader, to say good things about your companion, to cheerfully obey rules or when you refuse to listen to gossip about another person. It matters very much!

One of the mysteries of the Book of Mormon, that wonderful book that is so full of inspiration and wisdom, is the difference between Nephi and his oldest two brothers, Laman and Lemuel. What was the main difference? It was their attitude. It was the Attitude of Murmuring by Laman and Lemuel versus the Attitude of Faith by Nephi. Their father Lehi said to Nephi:

"And now, behold thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard thing...[but Nephi]...thou shalt be favored of the Lord, because thou has not murmured." (1 Nephi 3:5-6)

Elder H. Ross Workman identified a pattern of those who murmur. There are three steps:

"Laman and Lemuel murmured. It began, as always, with QUESTIONING: "How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands?" they said.

Next, the EXCUSES: "Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea even he can slay fifty; then why not us?"

Finally, they were SLOTHFUL. Filled with anger, resentment, and excuses, Laman and Lemuel waited by the walls of Jerusalem while the faithful Nephi accomplished the work of the Lord." (1 Nephi 3:31, 4:3-5)"  (General Conference October 2001)

They were using the hurtful, negative side of the sword. They were using their words to destroy their own faith and courage. They used their words to depress themselves. Do you ever do that?
It is inspiring to read Nephi's words, as he so faithfully uses the other edge of the sword:

"And it came to pass that I spake unto my brethren, saying: Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even that his tens of thousands?" (1 Nephi 4:1)

So Nephi's brothers murmured and stayed outside of the walls while faithful Nephi entered the city and accomplished the Lord's work.

Elders and sisters, don't stay "outside the walls." Use your words to pray to the Lord. Use your words to build your faith and build the faith of those around you. You show your faith by your words and your actions.

The Lord gave you a mouth so that you could use it to do great things.

Recently, Sister Ostler, Caleb, six elders, 2 sisters and I spent many hours at the Manila airport trying to get on a plane to fly to Puerto Princesa. After waiting several hours we finally boarded the plane, put on our seat belts, and then the pilot announced that our flight was canceled. We waited another 30 minutes, de-boarded the plane, picked up our luggage and went back home. We got up very early the next morning and again boarded the plane to Puerto Princesa. I watched our missionaries closely. What would they do? How would they react to waiting and waiting, getting to bed late, getting up early and then doing it over again? I am pleased to report that I never heard a single word of complaint. What did they do? They talked to everyone around them about the gospel and received some referrals. After that, they pulled out their hymnbooks and sang Christmas hymns and other gospel hymns to the crowds of hot, frustrated people. They brought smiles to people's faces. Many people (including Sister Ostler) videotaped these smiling, singing, happy Mormon missionaries. I would not be surprised if the whole purpose for these flight problems was to bring the gospel to these souls!

FIRST INVITATION: NEVER COMPLAIN ABOUT ANYONE OR ANYTHING. Never complain about the weather. Never complain about your companion. Never complain about the leaders or the members. Never complain about your area or the bugs or the pollution. Never complain about people who reject you or who don't keep their commitments.

SECOND INVITATION: FIND SOMETHING POSITIVE IN EVERY SITUATION.  For example, if the weather is hot, be thankful that it is not hotter. Use your umbrella. Be grateful you don't have to buy expensive jackets, hats, gloves and scarves for your mission. Find positive things about your companion. Say true, positive things about leaders and members. Be humble enough to realize that you are not perfect, so express faith and confidence in the people you teach. If they don't keep their commitments, trust the Lord, do your best and the Lord will bless you. Complaining never blessed anyone.
Elder Orson F. Whitney said: "The spirit of the gospel is optimistic; it trusts in God and looks on the bright side of things. The opposite or pessimistic spirit drags men down and away from God, looks on the dark side, murmurs, complains, and is slow to yield obedience."

I promise that making these changes will bless your life. If you made no other change during your entire mission than to change your words from negative to positive, your whole mission would be worth it! Don't "stay outside the walls" murmuring and complaining. Follow faithful Nephi as he says "Let us be faithful!"

May the Lord bless you my dear fellow-servants. May He bless you with the spirit of Hope and Happiness and Joy.
Mahal ko po kayo,

President Creg D. Ostler